The Fifth Seal of Revelation Prophecy and Martyred Christians

The Fifth Seal of Revelation is one of the last three seals that come after the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and is contained in 3 verses in Revelation Chapter 6 Verses 9-11 listed below. This article will go into detail on what this Fifth Seal represents and how it differs from the others, but it will be kept simple and to the point because this topic has the potential to balloon into an article that is absolutely monumental in size.

The First Four Seals are according to my interpretation dark forces released onto the earth in the form of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. They take place right here on earth. There are a vast number of other interpretations out there, but these are what I think these Horseman represent. The Sixth Seal heralds natural disasters on this earth and the effects on certain groups of people (elite non believers) and unmistakable signs in the Cosmos. The seventh seal is out there on it's own and is purely "silence in heaven" and needs no further explanation.

After the Fourth Seal, there's no announcement by any beast or animal or power for the Fifth, Sixth, or Seventh Seal of Revelation and it's the fifth Seal that is the focus of this article.

The Fifth Seal has very strong connotations in relation to Christians on first reading, but is it? This fifth seal also brings up other possible topics such as the Rapture especially the Pre-Tribulation Rapture which again is another whole topic entirely. See Is the Rapture Pre or Post Tribulation. It also ties up with Mystery Babylon but again that is a separate topic. See Who or What is Mystery Babylon. The main theme on first reading of the Opening of the Fifth Seal which is being opened by the Lamb (Jesus) himself is the Bible promises us that large-scale persecutions and martyring of the saints will take place before Christ's return. No numbers are mentioned here but Martyrs in the millions looks to be the general indication.

The Fifth Seal also raises the question whether the souls that were slain under the altar are the result of Jesus opening the fifth seal or were the result of the Four Seals or Four Horseman of the Apocalypse that were opened preceding this Fifth Seal. The main emphasis of the First Four Seals are death by famine, war, pestilence and the Beasts it is not made clear whether Christians are targeted during the First Four Seals.

Here are the three infamous verses that reveal what the Fifth Seal of Revelation is all about.

Revelation 6:9-11 The Fifth Seal of Revelation
9. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11. And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

This has strong parallels with Matthew 24:9-10 mentioned during the Olivet Discourse and these are the words of Jesus to his disciples saying what will happen before his Second Coming

9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Afflicted and kill are the words that stand out in these two verses.

Questions that the Fifth Seal raises within these three verses mentioned in Revelation 6:9-11

1. What is the Fifth Seal about in General.
2. Who are the souls slain for the word of God and what is the altar?
3. Why do these souls sound unchristian and ask God when will their blood be avenged?
4. What is the significance of the White Robes.
5. What is meant by the term "they should rest for a little season" and how long is that in time terms?
6. Who are the fellow servants and their brethren that will get killed just as they were?

This article will attempt to answer those questions.

Question 1 Answer: What is the Fifth Seal all about?
The fifth seal in no uncertain terms makes it clear that mankind will go through a great test and this will apply to believers and non believers alike. The growing anti-sentiment towards Christianity and probably Jews as well (Anti Semitism) will give rise to an increase in Persecution (which we are seeing now) Those who truly believe will choose something more precious than life and will be willing to lose their life for their faith and testimony of Jesus. Those loyal to God and His Word will choose death rather than submit to anything else. The saints will do this because their faith in God will be more important than their love for life as demonstrated in Revelation 12

Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Death, Loved not their lives and the "word of their testimony" being paramount here.

Testimony can be further summed up in Luke 21 where it is mentioned the destruction of the temple and what will happen in the End Times .

Luke 21:12-19
12. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
13. And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
14. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
15. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
16. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
17. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
18. But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
19. In your patience possess ye your souls.

Question 2 Answer: Who are the souls slain for the word of God under the Altar and what is the altar?

In Revelation 6:9 the souls mentioned are underneath the altar. Some say The word “souls” is to be taken as the equivalent of “lives”; the vision tells that their lives had been sacrificed. Some say this possibly suggests that sacrifices were killed on the altar that is located in Heaven. Is this the case? and who were the souls?

There are many interpretations for these souls that are under the altar mentioned in Revelation 6:9. Sacrifices were made frequently as part of the Jewish faith and were part of the law that the Jews were under under in the Old Covenant mentioned in the Old Testament in Leviticus but this was in relation to animal sacrifices.

Leviticus 4:7. And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

When an animal sacrifice was killed on the altar, its blood flowed down to the bottom of the altar and under it. The soul of the flesh is in the blood as mentioned in Leviticus 17

Levticus 17:11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

What Revelation 6:9 implies is that the Martyred Saints all were offered to God as sacrifices on the altar in heaven and that their blood, their life, was shed there and the result is their position is under the altar.

An altar is mentioned an additional seven times in the book of Revelation, and in six of them, it refers to the golden incense altar that stands before the throne of God in heaven (see Revelation 8:3-5; 9:13; 14:18; 16:7). The only exception to this appears in Revelation 11:1.

And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

This interpretation leads to the possibility that these under the Altar may have been Jewish or Jews that turned to and believed in Jesus? However there is one indication that runs contrary to this theory that sacrifices were made in heaven and that is Revelation 6:10

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth suggests that they were Martyred for their belief and faith on earth and not in heaven which is the conclusion which would be reached if Revelation 6:9 was read in isolation.

Moving onto the souls that were slain. Before martyrdom sets in; persecution must have started to occur. In our present times professing Christians are suffering and dying for their beliefs in predominantly Muslim and Communist nations. This will spread when the Fifth Seal is opened and will become global. Current headlines are suggesting that this seal is close to be being opened or is slowly being opened now. The view that Souls in the vision of Revelation equates to "lives" has an element of truth here.

The question that is raised is, are these souls slain for the Word of God under the altar actually Christians or Jews? Why were these people slain? They were killed or sacrificed for their belief in the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held. Some say these are the saints awaiting the resurrection prior to the opening of the Fifth Seal but in reality it is difficult to fathom who these souls really are.

Question 3 Answer: Why do these souls act unchristian like and ask God when will their blood be avenged?

On first impressions with the tone that these martyrs or souls under the altar cry out does not sound like Martyrs of the Christian Church. Christians are all about "Forgiveness" and would not cry to be "avenged". A good example of this is the First Christian Martyr mentioned in the Bible which is Stephen. If we take the situation of Stephen mentioned in Acts when he was stoned to death for his faith and this was witnessed by Paul (then named Saul) Stephen said these words before he died:

Acts 7:58-60
58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
59. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Jesus at Calvary on the cross said a similar thing

Luke 23:34
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
In the Christian Faith this is called "Forgiveness" a major character trait of any Christian. However both Jesus and Stephen were on earth at the time and alive, the souls mentioned in the Fifth Seal of Revelation are not alive in human form and are in heaven and not on earth. Some say these cries from these souls are from Jews and not Christians. This is difficult to prove. The other side of the argument, many others say, these cries were from souls that knew their blood would be avenged but needed to know when their blood would be avenged. The fact remains we don't really know.

Question 4 Answer What is the significance of the White Robes?

White robes are a symbol of purity and of salvation. The souls that are crying out are not yet resurrected bodies but they are given White Robes none the less. According to Ellicotts Commentary

They are robes of righteousness (Revelation 19:8); they are robes of honour (Revelation 4:4), for those who wear them are like God, seeing Him as He is, reflecting His image; they are acknowledged to be His, as they have acknowledged Him to be their God. Persecuted on earth, they are honoured in heaven.

According to Benson Commentary white robes were given:
As a token of their justification, and favourable acceptance with God; of their victory and triumph over death, their joy and glory.

Question 5 Answer What is meant by the term "they should rest for a little season" and how long is that in time terms?

No one really knows how long a season or a little season is. Some say it could be months, others say it could be years. A season can mean many things but literally it can mean a period of 3 months as in the Seasons of the Year. Taking a "little season" literally could mean a month but taking into account the number implied by the statement "until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" mentioned in Revelation 6:11 which could mean millions, 1 month or so sounds a relatively unrealistic time period.

Question 6 Answer: 6. Who are the fellow servants and their brethren that will get killed just as they were?

Until their fellow servants also, and their brethren (Jews) that should be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled" mentioned in Revelation 6:11. Some say this promise is fulfilled in Rev. 20:4-6 and also seems to be indicated in Revelation 7:9 with the multitude that is mentioned there which are described as coming out of "great tribulation" 8see video). Some views say that these are those that are Raptured and not Martyred, others say this multitude were Martyred and not Raptured. These are the Saints that Daniel foresaw would receive the Kingdom in Dan. 7:27.

Daniel 7:27
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
Other theories include the mentioning of the word "avenged" in Revelation 19 in connection with Mystery Babylon mentioned in that Chapter.

Revelation 19:2
For true and righteous are his judgements: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.

There are other points throughout Revelation where "fellow servants" that get martyred could be applied including Revelation 13

Revelation 13:15. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

Those that would not worship the image of the beast it can be safely said must be Christians who were in the faith for some time or are new believers as a result of the Tribulation Period.


There are a huge number of interpretations for the Book of Revelation and even the Fifth Seal but most are in agreement that that Fifth Seal is the Martyring of the Saints. The opening of the Fifth Seal marks a watershed in the Christian faith between those that were martyred in the past and those that have yet to be martyred. It is difficult just by using the three verses of Revelation 6:9-11 to fathom whether the souls under the altar are Jews or whether they are Jews that became Christians and were martyred, or whether they are Martyred Christians from the past?

But the overwhelming evidence is that The Fifth Seal of Revelation is about the "sacrifice" of a persons life for the belief in God's word and having the "Testimony of Jesus". It is all about Martyrdom. This Bible verse sums up the Christian faith in a nutshell.

Luke 14:26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
If Jesus was the human sacrifice on the cross for our sins as in John 3:16 then it can be guaranteed that as Christians we are carrying our very own cross to our very own personal Calvary and we will become a sacrifice for our faith in God's Word and Witness and Belief in Jesus Christ.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Acts 1:8
8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
The Fifth Seal of Revelation Prophecy and Martyred Christians The Fifth Seal of Revelation Prophecy and Martyred Christians Reviewed by Frank John on February 26, 2017 Rating: 5
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